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Crowdfunded film ‘Kung Fury’ is nothing but 1980s B-movie nostalgia—and that’s the point

If you lived for 1980s action films while growing up, this movie is for you.

Mar 1, 2020, 2:47 am*

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Josh Katzowitz 

Josh Katzowitz

One of the great things about the Internet is the way crowdfunding has brought back once-obscure pieces of history. Kung Fury is one such project—a tribute to the cheesy B-movies of the 1980s that is practically dripping with nostalgia.

You can watch the half-hour movie below, but you probably don’t have time for that, so scroll past the video to read our thoughts. 

First, a quick history of Kung Fury. According to the movie’s official website, Kung Fury is “a love letter to the 80’s,” the result of a crowdfunding campaign that began in late 2013. Two days later, director David Sandberg reached his $200,000 goal, a feat that seemed to shock him.

“To be honest I doubted we would reach our goal at all,” Sandberg wrote on Dec. 28, 2013. “Well… we reached it and exceeded it in 2 days!!!! This is INSANE!”

Though he made a new goal of $1 million to turn his original 30-minute film idea into a feature, he decided about a month into crowdfunding that his goal wasn’t feasible (even though he had raised about $630,000 by late January 2014). So he left it at a half-hour.

Still, he made this vow: “My number one priority is to deliver the most kick-ass internet-funded movie this world has ever seen.” 

Watching Kung Fury, it’s clear what his influences are. Sandberg, born in Sweden, weaned himself on kick-ass 1980s American action movies in which Sly Stallone, Chuck Norris, and the future governor of California ruled all.

As Variety noted, Kung Fury is “also a loving homage to the era when the B movie became America’s greatest export: When English-as-second-language stars — like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Sylvester Stallone (granted, Rocky wasn’t born abroad, but he sure sounds like it) — dropped catchphrases instead of dialogue, making it easy for foreigners to follow movies where exploding cars and martial-arts action served as the main attraction.”

The influence on Sandberg’s movie is immediately apparent.

By the time the movie is 3.8 percent finished—in other words, 70 seconds into the film—there have been four people shooting other people with guns, three major explosions, one kick-ass looking arcade with a game that shoots multiple people, one meathead wearing a Gold’s Gym tank top and carrying a boombox on his shoulder, a gold chain that would make any member of Run DMC jealous, and a baby carriage on fire. And this is before we even meet the protagonist, Kung Fury himself.

So yeah, that’s pretty much what this movie is all about: Guns, heads exploding, cars exploding, and excellent 1980s-style one-liners. It is (slightly) over-the-top and a (little bit) ridiculous. Obviously, I’m kidding. It’s ridiculously over the top all the way around.

But here’s my question: Do you have to have lived in the ’80s and early ’90s in order to fully appreciate what Sandberg is trying to accomplish? There are a few excellent VCR gags, as seen below, but will Millennials understand the struggle that we Gen Xers went through while trying to watch a movie on a VHS tape?

LaserUnicorns/YouTube

Will Millennials relate to the awesome power of the Nintendo Power Glove? Why does Triceratops have a British accent? How does Hitler know how to use a cellphone? And just how do Viking women communicate so well in modern-day English?

These are questions without answers, but I suppose it doesn’t really matter. Nor should it matter what I think of the movie. (For the record, I thought it was enjoyable, probably for the same reasons Chuck Klosterman laid out in this piece for Esquire about why Snakes on a Plane was made.) Kung Fury exists because a bunch of fans with money to spend on an Internet project wanted it to be so.

Whether the movie is good or whether it sucks is hardly the point. The movie exists, so everybody who cared about getting it made is a winner.

Screengrab via LaserUnicorns/YouTube

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*First Published: May 29, 2015, 8:06 am